The message on my answering machine was brief, but weighty. It was Karen, the owner of an independent bookstore that hosted an author event for me the year my novel was released.
“I don’t know if you are aware,” she said, “but we will be closing our doors. We still have some copies of your books here. If you can come pick them up this week, we will set them aside for you.”
I called back to assure the owners that I would be coming by to collect my books, and to express my sorrow over such bad news. “Remember us in your prayers,” they said.
I was reminded of a scene from The Fellowship of the Ring, when Sam and Frodo observe a procession of wood Elves who are leaving Middle Earth, never to return.
I realized this was a sad day, and not just for my friends, who are losing their family business. It was a grievous day for us all.
The time of the independent brick and mortar bookstores may soon be ending, just like the time of the Elves in Middle Earth. As with the passing of the Elves, something rich and good and beautiful will depart forever when they go. Our world will diminish as a consequence.
As Sam observed, “I don’t know why, but it makes me sad.”